AN estimated one in four small businesses in the east of England have been the victims of crime, new data has revealed.

Figures from the Federation of Small Businesses show 28 per cent of small firms in Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire have suffered theft, criminal damage or assault.

The data also reveals 18 per cent have been hit by cyber crime.

The FSB is calling on the Government to tackle crime in the business industry, which it says costs £17billion a year.

Spokesman Simona Daniel said: “These are uncertain times for all firms and with ever-increasing costs, business crime is a problem that is devastating firms across the country.

“Small firms are crying out for help from the Government and from the police.”

The FSB welcomed government plans to bolster policing numbers by 20,000.